10 Questions Entreprenurs Should Ask To Focus

Why 5% Succeed Best Selling Book CoverJackie Nagel, at Synnovatia offers excellent questions every entrepreneur should ask to focus their vision. That got me thinking about some of the examples I’ve collected, saved and used when developing projects, designing possibilities or delivering profit.

Elaine Starling co author of Why 5% Succeed: The 5 Principles of Predictable Profit, shares Key Questions To Triple Bottom Line Any Project, Business or endeavour worthy of your time and attention.

So once you know what your why is all about, you can focus on your customers. One of the best ways to do that is to Build an empathy map of your customers, clients. This is a powerful exercise and it’s often uncanny how close you can come without any other market research. If you do verify your empathy map with research or focus groups, you’ll have highly relevant data. If you do or don’t verify with focus groups, revisiting the empathy map regularly to revise or refine is essential if it’s to remain a useful tool.

Once you build an empathy map of your ideal customer it informs the steps to be taken that implement your customer engagement strategies. If you’ve done this much, your chances of producing relevant results for both sides of the bargain.are pretty good. That’s something to build on.

Asking questions is part of how we’re wired so why not ask really good ones? The best advice I have on the subject is to really be present when listening to the responses..

Tracking Web Users: Confusing Consumers For Profit?

Cartoon Man With Magnifying Glass Viewing Man Viewing ComputerThere’s a lot we take for granted in our web browsing. There’s all that tracking of where we go and what we do – even if we do nothing. And don’t get me started on privacy policies, terms and conditions and all the other ridiculously long scrolling admonitions we often agree to with a knee-jerk response to end the tedium and get on with what we came for.

Nate Cordozo has an excellent story about this on Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s site. If a business model wouldn’t work if users had to opt in, it deserves to fail. Maybe if we flipped the funnel so to speak, we’d get a far better web user experience. If every site had a default “NO Tracking” setting, we’d start to reassert some autonomy of our virtual lives.

Then again, maybe that’s the point. The more we get used to ‘sharing’ everything in our virtual world, and I use that term loosely, then we’ll be used to submitting to all sorts of other practices, policies and laws designed to constrain what we as free humans can do .

When do you think the last time that “This call is being recorded for training and customer service” actually resulted in either? Why should we think web tracking will be any different?

Why People Stick With Yoga

Yoga means ‘union’. It’s not so surprising that when it occurs, we’d like to stick with it. 

From Resolution to Ritual: Why People Start and Stick With Yoga

Sunrise mediationAs the new year begins, millions of Americans will start off 2015 in pursuit of some resolution, whether it’s quitting smoking, landing a better job, or getting in shape for warmer weather. Many will likely turn to some form of yoga, a discipline that has exploded across the country in the last few decades. Yoga not only increases strength and flexibility, it has been shown to improve outcomes for people with everything from arthritis to asthma. Now, a pioneering study by a researcher at UConn’s Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention (CHIP) has shed new light on why people start practicing yoga, and what makes them likely to stick with it over the long haul. The results suggest that it’s less about fitness, and more about faith.

The paper, published last summer in the Journal of Health Psychology, grew out of the One Leg Bow personal experience of Crystal Park, the study’s lead author. A professor of psychology who has extensively studied the role of spiritual belief in the psychological reactions of people to high-stress situations, Park has also practiced yoga for more than 10 years, and over that time she became interested in examining why people are drawn to the practice. The scientific literature clearly showed that there were health benefits to yoga, but no one had studied why people do it.

Man Doing Yoga To help answer that question, Park enlisted the help of Dechen Zezulka, the owner of Mystic Yoga Shala, the studio where Park practices. With Zezulka’s help, the research team conducted a nationwide survey of more than 500 yoga practitioners, including both students and teachers, to try and tease out what brought people into a yoga studio for the first time, and what kept them coming back. The results of the study listed the primary reasons to start a practice as flexibility and getting into shape, a list Zezulka says echoes her experience as an instructor, with the vast majority of first-time students hoping to recover from an injury, or just looking to develop the “yoga body.” But for many, that interest shifts over time.

“In the beginning, you are doing yoga,” Zezulka says. “Eventually, the yoga starts doing Woman Doing Left Side Stretchyou. People come in for a superficial reason, [but] they start to become aware of what’s going on in their minds. That’s what keeps them coming back.” Zezulka’s intuition was borne out by the results of the study, where participants reported precisely the same sort of shift.

More than 60 percent of the study’s participants reported that their primary motivation for practicing yoga had changed over time, and a change was more likely to have taken place for people who had been practicing longer. While most people reported starting yoga for purely physical reasons, the primary motivations for long-term practitioners were not just about the body. Participants listed stress relief, a sense of community, and self-discovery among the reasons they kept coming to yoga, with “spirituality” as the most common answer.

That shift, from yoga as exercise to yoga as spiritual practice was familiar to Park through her own experience. “I started taking yoga at the gym for fitness reasons,” says Park, “solely for exercise. But I slowly found my way to the spiritual side.” This shift was particularly pronounced among yoga teachers, with more than 85 percent reporting that their motivations had shifted since their introduction to yoga, and nearly half claiming a spiritual component as their primary reason for continuing.

Park points out that there are aspects of the practice that seem to draw people toward spirituality. “The whole thing is very ritualized, very regimented … there’s a lot of spiritual aspects, even if you’re not overtly looking for that,” she says. “It’s all about connecting us together and connecting us to the universe. If you have openness to spiritual questing, there’s a lot of opportunity to go that way.”

Zezulka agrees, and highlighted that the students who return to her studio day after day all seem hungry for the more spiritual aspects of the practice. “If I do drop a little spiritual nugget, people come up to me after class and say how thankful they are.” Zezulka speculates that that spiritual hunger may be connected to the decline of organized religion in America. “I feel like a lot of people have become disillusioned with religion,” she says, “especially if there is judgment about other groups or other belief systems.”

Park agrees that organized religion seems to be waning in American life, “particularly demographically, among the more educated.” But she was less willing to speculate about about whether or not that was a driver of the spiritual questing reported by yoga practitioners, saying “I’d have to look at some data before I told you that.”

For now, Park is content to continue this ground-breaking work into the psychology of yoga practice, and has hopes to expand. Park hopes to look next at the motivations of men, who made up a small fraction of the study, and who represent a small minority of yoga practitioners nationwide. Once again, her instinct as a researcher is being guided by her own experience, as she hopes to uncover the motivations that drive men to practice yoga, because “mixed-gender group are different than all female groups,” she says. “It just feels more … normal.”


CONTACT: Tim Miller

(860) 486-4064


Weed’s Chronic Energy Use Becomes a Concern

The legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states has energy providers worrying that a boom in indoor growing could put a chronic drain on electricity resources.

In Colorado, where recreational use was made legal in January, construction of marijuana grow houses is taking off. Utilities there and in Washington state, along with academic researchers, are exploring ways to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with this “indoor agriculture.” In grow houses, plants are nurtured under lights that mimic the intensity of the sun.

Legalization may ultimately mean that some growing moves outdoors. But grow houses protect crops from the elements, not to mention thieves.

Growing marijuana already consumes huge amounts of energy. The warehouses commonly used to raise the plants in large quantities use about as much energy per square meter as a high-end data center. One-third of the energy used in growing operations comes from the lighting; the rest is devoted to ventilation, heating, dehumidification, and air conditioning. Altogether, the practice accounts for $6 billion of electricity usage in the United States, according to Evan Mills, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who published the estimate in the journal Energy Policy in 2012 (see “Startup Clamps Down on Energy Theft”).

“This is just a staggering amount of electricity,” says Bruce Bugbee, a professor of crop physiology at Utah State University. He says representatives from a utility in Washington have told him that they may need to build the equivalent of another Grand Coulee Dam just to supply energy to marijuana farmers.

Xcel Energy, one of Colorado’s biggest utilities, is already sending representatives into marijuana growing facilities, taking stock of their energy use, and developing a rebate program to encourage growers to switch to more energy-efficient technologies. “We know that grow-house operations vary tremendously in size and scope and how they run their operations, so we are in the midst of compiling data,” says Gabriel Romero, an Xcel spokesman.

While cutting energy consumption from lighting in homes is straightforward, typically involving little more than replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, professional growers have more to consider. Tessa Pocock, a senior research scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has funding from the state of New York to investigate how varying the wavelengths of LED lights affects the way plants grow. She will study how different wavelengths can change the active compounds in what RPI, in a press release, calls “medicinal plants.”

There are other reasons why not all types of LEDs are a good option. This month Bugbee published a study that found that some LED grow lights, such as those sold by Hydrogrow and Lumigrow, are roughly half as efficient as the best LEDs in terms of the specifications that matter most to plants: the flow of photons produced per joule of electricity. What’s more, LEDs are expensive—for high-intensity lighting, other types of bulbs provide the same efficiency at half the cost.

Eventually, as growing marijuana becomes more accepted, some farmers may turn away from grow houses altogether. “I’ve visited growers in Colorado who’ve grown cannabis for 30 years and have always grown it indoors,” Bugbee says. “The most progressive growers have run the numbers, and instead of warehouses they’re starting to build greenhouses.” The plants may still be sheltered, but they’re open to view—and to the natural light of the sun.

A Relationship Is A Grand Conversation

By Nancy Zapolski, PhD, Landmark Forum leader

You+Me=UsNancy has an elegant way of pointing out the upside to having something at stake. Relationships are a good place to start because most of us can’t avoid them even if we wanted to.

We sometimes think that the circumstances in our relationships keep our relationships from being great. (If only she fill in the blank, if only he fill in the blank, etc.) But it’s not the content that determines the quality and power of our relationships—it’s the way we hold the content, the conversations we engage in, the conversation we are, the stand we take for workability.

Power, fulfillment, satisfaction, and aliveness in our relationships happen if we take our various complaints, or things we think don’t work, and promise to produce what’s missing (not as an insufficiency, but a possibility for something). To promise to produce what’s missing leaves us at risk.

Being related is a grand conversation—it’s living in a possibility, and if it’s a possibility, it’s inherently risky. If it’s not risky, if it’s a sure thing, if it’s predictable, then what we’ll be left with is something trivial. Our closest relationships then become a place of explanation rather than exploration, of resignation rather than declaration. In those moments, courage is required to set aside our judgments, characterizations, and Landmark Insights blog, Nancy Zapolski, Landmark Forum leaderopinions and create our relationship being powerful again—being related is a conversation, and with that comes an infinite malleability. Love, genuinely and openly expressed, is enormously powerful. And it’s in risking ourselves, in revealing ourselves to one another and to those closest to us, that we become ourselves.

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– See more at: http://landmarkinsights.com/2014/05/relationship-is-a-grand-conversation/#sthash.Aq7Z2ger.dpuf

America’s New Generation of Farmers

All across the country, young people who were not raised in agricultural environments are getting involved in sustainable food production. Aliza Eliazarov, a photographer who has long had an interest in environmental issues, decided to document the various manifestations of this movement in her series, “Sustain.” See more ag pioneers here.

Deborah, East New York Farms, Brooklyn, N.Y